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Growing up, I never had the dream of teaching. I simply was in love with being a learner and a student of life. As I learned, I grew into the idea that knowledge contained power, if I only I could understand and apply it appropriately. This was largely in part to having instructors who taught me that the value of education was much deeper than receiving a piece of paper or a good career. They taught me that the value of education was being able to understand life as we know it and being able to transform it through the power of our mind and the information we put in it. As I participated in the process of learning this way, I fell in love with the experience and desired to replicate it as much as possible. As I continued to learn, I naturally began to teach.

While I have always been one to share what I know when helpful and relevant, I didn't start working in an actual teaching capacity until I was a sophomore in college. It was then that I became an in-classroom tutor for the Little Rock School District in Little Rock, Arkansas for a program called AVID. AVID stands for Advancement via Individual Determination and was largely aimed at offering students from disadvantaged backgrounds extra skills in studying, life skills and college preparation. I thoroughly enjoyed the holistic learning that was built into the model. I worked with students who had unique stories that revolved around living urban life. Many of them had no interest in school because they had real life problems at home. So, in one of our sessions together, I learned what their favorite songs were, pulled up the lyrics, projected them onto the screen and we learned the different styles of poetry that were written into the music they loved. This is an example of how learning can be applied in such a way that even education about rhetoric is transformative.

After this, I went into substitute teaching where I was afforded the luxury of working with students on every grade level. While pursuing my masters degree at Southern Methodist University, I became a youth pastor and continued teaching ages 12-17 but this time about Christianity instead of public school curriculum. Bible study that was completely faith based before had become universally objective. I was not teaching the youth reasons why they should subscribe to Christianity. Instead, they were learning about how the teachings of Christianity have, will and can show up in our lives and the varying ways to view those teachings in light of history. Upon graduating, I became an adjunct instructor in humanities at Philander Smith College teaching courses in religion. It was here that my degree in English became critical as it was necessary to help many of my students in their writing.

Writing is extremely vital. What we can produce from it has the capacity to allow us and our ideas to live forever. All of us have something inside of us worth sharing with the world. I enjoy helping my students find and cultivate the voice theyd like to say it with. It is important when working with people in general to establish positive relationships where we can accomplish our goals as our authentic selves. With my students, this means getting to know their learning styles and interests so I know best how to approach working with them. The range of studies I have been able to teach has afforded me to work with many different types of students. They have all different faculties and capabilities; No two students are alike. It is important to me to be aware of who I am working with so that I can reach each student equitably.

As I continue to teach, my goal is continue creating experiences for students that transform and grow the value of education. My approach is to never tell a student what to think but to work with them in cultivating how they think and ensuring that their thinking is both critical and sound. By meeting students where they are, helping them digest and apply the information they learn, I can help them go where their goals can be reached.

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Carissa’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Philander Smith College - Bachelor in Arts, English

Graduate Degree: Southern Methodist University - Master of Divinity, Theology


Reading, traveling, fine arts

Tutoring Subjects

Adult Literacy

College English


High School English

High School Writing


Public Speaking

Social Studies

Study Skills

Study Skills and Organization

World Religions


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